From NFL Field to Microphone: Inside Colin Thompson’s Trailblazing Media Journey

Colin Thompson

Getty Colin Thompson #86 of the Carolina Panthers.

Colin Thompson woke up in extreme pain.

During the middle of New York Giants training camp in 2017, the undrafted tight end out of Temple was rushed into the hospital to undergo an emergency appendectomy.

The Giants waived him 48 hours later.

The NFL. Not For Long.

“I started my own podcast, the Not for Long Podcast,” Colin told Heavy during a lengthy phone conversation. “Now, it’s Not For Long Media. I think I was the first NFL player to have a podcast, and a media company, and I’ve been growing it from the ground up.”

Thompson once again finds himself an unrestricted free agent. After the Carolina Panthers opted not to re-sign him in 2022, the veteran tight end is training hard each day in the shadows of the Naval Academy, while waiting for his phone to ring and the next NFL opportunity to arrive.

But, it was his first stretch as a free agent that inspired him to form his own media company.

Returning home to his alma mater, Thompson joined the OwlScoop Podcast, before launching his own. The podcast, and now the media company, has not only set Thompson up for life after football but has allowed him to be a trailblazer of sorts during his football career.

“It’s allowed me to co-exist as a player and do some media stuff,” Thompson explained. “Instead of watching a couple hours of Netflix each night, I may make some phone calls, or go record a show. It’s a way for me to move a career along, while I’m playing. It’s not a distraction for me, it’s part of the journey.”

The podcast has opened doors off the field for Thompson. The 29-year-0ld, who has 1 career reception for seven yards and one touchdown in 26 games for the Panthers, had the opportunity in recent months to attend the NFL’s Broadcast Boot Camp and is scheduled to fill in as host on nationally broadcast platforms in the near future.

“It’s something I’ve had a lot of fun doing,” Thompson said of his media work.

The Player Behind the Microphone

At the conclusion of grueling training camp practices under the broiling Spartanburg, S.C. sun, players typically cannot wait to jump into the ice tub. Or, at the very least, retreat to the cooling confines of the air-conditioned Wofford College locker rooms.

Just as his teammates are hitting the showers, or getting stopped along the way by reporters looking for soundbites or the next viral clip after practice, it isn’t unusual for them to be greeted by a familiar face. Thompson’s.

“We’re doing on-field interviews after practice,” Thompson said. “And, I’m in my pads interviewing guys. That’s stuff that the team does, and I said ‘You know what, this is what I’m going to do.’ I talked to the team about it, they were cool with it, got the blessings from everybody, and they’ve been great with it.”

In the summer of 2022, Thompson had quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold as guests on the show. Christian McCaffrey has made appearances, prior to getting traded to the San Francisco 49ers. So, too, did ESPN insider Adam Schefter.

Not too long ago, players saying something controversial in the media was frowned upon.

However, nowadays, Travis and Jason Kelce have built a massive following for their hit “New Heights” podcast. Devin and Jason McCourty have seamlessly reached levels of stardom in media that mirror their impact on the football field.

“A lot of players can have their own media platform,” Thompson said. “I give a lot of credit to the open-mindedness of front offices and coaches now, whereas before, it was so taboo to do anything outside of the building. I always thought it was funny; you could invest in businesses and have that stress in your life, but if you did anything verbally, you were looked down upon. A lot of players have broke down those barriers.

Thompson’s network has allowed him to build relationships with players around the league, as well as some of the biggest names in media, in hopes of strengthening the foundation for what he’s building off the field.

“A lot of people like to have these massive guests on,” Thompson said, explaining the kind of content he aims to create each time he cracks upon the microphone. “I just like to have good stories, good conversations, people I trust from the lowest of media rankings to the highest, that I know will provide great content for our listeners and our viewers.

“I don’t have an ego-list, about other shows having these massive guests. I just want to have great quality, and great conversation.”

In addition to Thompson’s show, Not For Long Media has eight total podcasts, including the food-centric “Samboners” to the all-female hosted “2 Girls 1 League.”

Beyond athletes, Thompson has had world-renowned chefs appear, as well as smaller chefs aiming to make a name for themselves.

“I’ve had my buddies on who are private chefs that have elite English Premier League knowledge and no one knows who they are,” Thompson said. “But, I just think they’re really smart and have good stuff. I try to be equal opportunity with it, have some fun with it. I’m excited for the future, and I’m bullish about it.”

The Podcaster on the Field

Thompson is currently a free agent, and at age 29, there’s a pretty decent chance that there are more yesterdays than tomorrows ahead in his NFL playing career.

But, he’s in no rush to hang up his cleats and sit behind the microphone full-time.

As 2023 training camps near, there are handfuls of teams expressing interest in signing Thompson, who has spent time on the Giants and Chicago Bears‘ practice squads before spending the past three seasons in Carolina.

At the same time, though, Thompson has no delusions about the length of an NFL career. Hence, Not For Long Media.

Whether he’s sprinting to snag the star quarterback for an interview after practice, or setting up shop in his home studio, Thompson has a long-term vision for what he’s building.

“The 10-year plan is this to have this thing co-exist with what I’m doing in football,” Thompson said. “Whether I’m going to continue to play into my mid-30s, whether I get into coaching, or a bigger media role by calling games, it will always be a main thing in my life.

“But, I like having it to co-exist. It’s an easy way for me to connect with people, we can have coaches on, players on, and I’ve already had all these conversations, I’m just putting it behind a microphone.”

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